Jul 27, 2008

DM Tools - Heromachine

Ulf Ironfist
ulf ironfist
Lady Flame
lady flame
Bergin
bergin
Heromachine is a nice little app that's been around for a long time. It's especially great for DMs who aren't very artistic (like me) that want to add more visual flare to their games.

With a dizzying array of options, any user is just a few dozen mouse clicks away from building a character or NPC to printout and show at the next session.

You start off choosing a body type (male or female and slender/bulky) and then selecting from various menus everything from boots, bracers, cloaks, weapons, etc. While Heromachine isn't specifically geared for fantasy characters, there are a good enough number of options to render a variety of fantasy types. Characters can be printed out and the data to build the character can be saved into a simple text file.

Here's the text data files for the characters above.

Note: there seems to be an issue where whatever is in the character's left hand is not properly save/loaded and doesn't actually appear when loading one of the data sets.

Ulf Ironfist
2.5b5*m2*Ulf Ironfist*Hair:Standard,cavalier,727272,0000FF,100,100,21,Eyebrows:Expansion1,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,19,Eyes:Faces,face17,53453A,CEA66B,100,100,18,Nose:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,25,Mouth:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,16,Beard:Standard,vikingbraid,5A5A5A,940018,100,100,24,Ears:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,17,Skin:Standard,hairy,CEA66B,AC814A,100,100,6,Mask:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,20,Headgear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,27,Undershirt:FantasyCommon,tunic,002C53,0069B5,100,100,7,Overshirt:Bustiers,fraBlank,734901,A66900,100,100,8,Coat:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,23,RightGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,15,LeftGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,14,Insignia:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,9,Neckwear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,22,Belt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,13,Leggings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,10,Overleggings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,11,Pants:Standard,tiebottom,5A3410,5A3410,100,100,12,RightFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,31,LeftFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,30,Back:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,3,Wings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,4,Tail:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,5,Aura:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,2,Companion:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,29,Background:Standard,fullscreen,F7EBE7,F7EBE7,100,100,1,RightHand:Energy,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,28,LeftHand:Blades,battleaxe,8C8C8C,696901,100,100,26,#

Lady Flame
2.5b5*f1*Lady Flame*Hair:Feminine,longblown,FFF701,4B4B4B,100,100,23,Eyebrows:Standard,fraBlank,734901,2B0036,100,100,21,Eyes:Faces,face1,0000FF,CEA66B,100,100,20,Nose:,fraBlank,9482B6,F6B652,100,100,27,Mouth:,fraBlank,724D21,00A69C,100,100,18,Beard:,fraBlank,7A7500,5A3410,100,100,26,Ears:Expansion1,fraBlank,a2a073,F79D9C,100,100,19,Skin:Standard,fraBlank,FFD08C,CEA66B,100,100,6,Mask:,fraBlank,E7017F,F7EBE7,100,100,22,Headgear:,fraBlank,202020,5A5A5A,100,100,29,Undershirt:Bustiers,tied,AC814A,724D21,100,100,7,Overshirt:,fraBlank,BDBDBD,8CCB9C,100,100,8,Coat:CapeFronts,shoulders,304095,101C42,100,100,25,RightGlove:Standard,armorband,9C4108,732C00,100,100,17,LeftGlove:Standard,armorband,9C4108,732C00,100,100,16,Insignia:,fraBlank,36B9EF,F79652,100,100,9,Neckwear:,fraBlank,EFD3C6,538610,100,100,24,Belt:Standard,peaked,732C00,9C4108,100,100,15,Leggings:,fraBlank,E70052,AC8ABC,100,100,10,Overleggings:,fraBlank,F6B652,36B9EF,100,100,11,Pants:Dresses,splitmid,724D21,AC814A,100,100,14,RightFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,13,LeftFoot:Standard,floppy,313131,181818,100,100,12,Back:Standard,flarecape,304095,101C42,100,100,3,Wings:,fraBlank,9596C6,7CC774v,100,100,4,Tail:,fraBlank,C5E39B,0069B5,100,100,5,Aura:,fraBlank,734901,9C4108,100,100,2,Companion:,fraBlank,00A69C,727272,100,100,31,Background:,fraBlank,6B0039,E8007A,100,100,1,RightHand:Miscellaneous,fraBlank,ADA600,FFF764,100,100,30,LeftHand:Energy,fire,00769C,8CCFF9,100,100,28,#

Bergin
2.5b5*m3*Character Name*Hair:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,21,Eyebrows:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,19,Eyes:Faces,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,18,Nose:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,24,Mouth:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,16,Beard:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,23,Ears:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,17,Skin:Standard,hairy,724D21,5A3410,100,100,6,Mask:Glasses,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,20,Headgear:Standard,minotaur,5A3410,F7EBE7,100,100,26,Undershirt:FantasyArmor,breastplate,848484,B2B2B2,100,100,29,Overshirt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,7,Coat:FantasyCommon,tabard2,0069B5,034829,100,100,30,RightGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,15,LeftGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,14,Insignia:Standard,griffon,FFF700,ADA600,100,100,31,Neckwear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,22,Belt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,13,Leggings:Standard,long,B2B2B2,CFCFCF,100,100,8,Overleggings:Standard,fraBlank,848484,9C9C9C,100,100,9,Pants:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,12,RightFoot:Standard,banded,313131,070707,100,99,11,LeftFoot:Standard,banded,313131,070707,100,100,10,Back:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,3,Wings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,4,Tail:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,5,Aura:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,2,Companion:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,28,Background:Standard,fullscreen,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,1,RightHand:Music,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,27,LeftHand:Blades,broadsword,727272,313131,100,100,25,#


If you make any modified versions of these characters, or want to show off new creations you made with Heromachine, please feel free to post info in the comments section.

Jul 25, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 8) - Raistlin's Pawn

City of Death

issue 8 coverThis last issue of the Raistlin's Pawn arc picks up a moment after the end of the last issue. Kalathan is lying on the ground in pain and while Myrella and Gnatch are trying to help him, Raistlin is walking away unconcerned for the dark elf.

Kalathan recovers and explains the dark mage's actions of hiding his thoughts of betraying the goddess Takhisis for a time within Kalathan, and compelling the elf to be in Neraka in time for Raistlin to "remember" and enact his plan.

Elsewhere, Raistlin, Caramon, and Berem are in a chamber under the temple. Raistlin keeps his brother at bay while Berem, in an attempt to free his imprisoned sister, impales himself on the foundation stone--the gateway Takhisis uses to enter the world. Berem's actions cause the temple structure to weaken and begin to collapse.

Everyone makes it out of the temple safely. Once outside, Kalathan confronts Raistlin and learns a dark secret. The dark mage reveals that Kalathan is actually Thanakan, the murderous elf that killed his family. Thanakan's last act was to transform the real Kalathan to look like his father, while the father altered his appearance to look like the surviving son. To further avoid magical detection, Thanakan also transferred Kalathan's memories and personality onto himself. The transfer was only supposed to be temporarily, but ended up being permanently.

Kalathan was shocked at the news, but vowed that while he still held a part of his murderous father's soul within him, that he was still had free will and renounced evil.

The last two pages consisted of a map of the Temple of Darkness, and D&D game stats for Kalathan's griffon and one of Gnatch's devices (seen in issue six).

Commentary

This was another weak issue in a story arc that I didn't like anyway.

Strangely, not much really happened in this issue. Many of the key events were taken from the last Chronicles novel, which I was already familiar with. If I hadn't read the book before, I would probably be confused, about Caramon and Berem, instead of bored. Myrella, Gnatch, and Kalathan didn't do anything but talk and run out of the collapsing temple.

On the plus side, guest penciller Michael Collins did a great job. The backgrounds inside the temple were beautifully detailed, the scenes with Berem were nicely laid out. Overall the art was much better than regular artist Ron Randall. Also, the revelation about Kalathan at the end was a great surprise, though I wished there had been hints of it worked into earlier issues (such as seeing the father's face in the true self mirror in issue six).

Since this is the last issue of the arc, I'm hoping the next story will be better.

Jul 22, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Serpent, and the Statue

The party made camp above ground atop the ruins of the Temple of the Flaming Fist. They spent the night resting and treating their wounds from the barbarian attack they were lucky to have survived.

* Bergin cast divine spells to heal the most wounded members of the party,
* while Hunter used his herbal skills to treat the others.
* Adow studdied the books and papers he'd found in one of rooms below,
* while Greybear, Theo, and Jeswin helped make camp and prepare dinner.

That night, while Hunter was on watch, he saw a wounded eagle being swatted around by a "playful" bear cub. He was able to befriend the little animal and send him on his way before the cub did any further damage to the eagle. With great skill, Hunter removed an unusually large black thorn that had temporarily crippled the bird. The rest of the evening passed by without further disruption.

The next day the party returned to exploring the underground complex, still searching for the Gem of Amara. The party continued down the same hallway where they encounter the barbarian the previous day. The first room two rooms seemed to be training areas, with the walls covered in carvings of monks fighting all manner or men and monsters. The second room also contained rugs, food, and other gear the hobgoblin traveled with. Additionally, these walls were also marred with scratches and gouges that looked like words and phrases. Since no one could read that particular language, the exact meaning wasn't discovered.

Traveling further down the hall, the party entered wide open area. Just then, flying around a corner at the far end of hallway, a large reddish dragon appeared that reeked of sulfur, with bits of light and heat leaking out from under it's scaly hide. Landing in front of the group, the dragon unleashed a wave of flame from it's huge mouth. Everyone was caught in the flames, some suffering it's effects more than others.

red dragonAs the party tried surrounding the creature, it unleashed various attacks, from it's terrible bite, to a pair of sharp front claws, as well as slapping opponents with it's wings and even it's tail. Nowhere was safe from attack.

With the battle going badly and everyone hurt, the group retreated above ground as quickly as possible. Luckily the dragon did not pursue. Topside, the group spent a couple of days healing before returning underground to explore other pathways in the hope of avoiding the dragon.

large monstrous spiderDown one particular path they started to enter a huge chamber but got caught up in the thin but strong webbing of a pair of large spiders. Theo was quickly pulled free of the entanglement while the rest of the party killed deadly arachnids. Entering the room, they noticed several large cocoons in the corners of the room... to their suprise, one man-sized cocoon was still wiggling as if trying to free itself from the webby tomb. As the part cut away the encasement, it turned out to contain a ghoulish monstrosity and not a helpless human life. Adow quickly destroyed the creature while Bergin said a quick prayer for its soul.

The room was huge, measuring over 50 feet square, with a large domed ceiling depicting row upon row of monk warriors standing ready for battle. The room was pretty empty except for the usual bits of debris collecting in the corners of the room. Along the far wall, the party found two sets of strange holes evenly spaced. The holes were empty, except for some old bits of splintered wood. Otherwise, the room held nothing of interest, nor any clues as to what the holes were for.

At a dead end, the party went about exploring one of the other pathways... Down the next hallway, the first door was closed and no sounds could be heard from within. Peeking inside, they saw a large red spotted centipede curled up in the center of the room, apparently dead. In the back of the room were two other centipedes that immediately started crawling toward the opening. At the right moment, the party slammed the door shut crushing the creature while other party members attacked the part of the creature stuck in the hallway. This worked more or less for both creatures, with only one or two party members getting nipped by the creatures mandibles. Inside the room, the party found a collection of old useless tools. Where there was metal, it was covered in rust, where there was wood, it was rotted and crumbed at the slightest touch.

an allipContinuing down the hallway, the party went around a corner and hear faint mumbling around the next corner. As the turned, they saw a vaguely humanoid form composed of black wisps of ethereal smoke seemingly chanting before a statue. As the party approached it turned to confront. While many of the party's attacks slipped around or through the ghostly being, it could be affected by magical weapons and spells. With each magical attack, more and more of the inky smoke disappeared until it finally dissolved away.

As the party surveyed the room they noticed a dead body in one corner. Long dead, this person was now reduced to bone and bits of cloth. Jesswin noticed that the cloth resembled what he'd seem of the monk's garb in the Temple. Unlike other rooms where dust and debris would collect, this room remained relatively clean.

The most disturbing feature of the place, was the central statue on the far war. Cast in fine bronze, the statue depicted a man, his eyes wide like a madman covered in barbs of bone that tore through the flesh. The most disturbing feature of this macabre artwork was the mouth. Seemingly stretched to human limits, a large python snake was shown coming out of the throat, it's body wrapping around the torso and leg before coming up the back. Both heads, ophidian and human, had the same general look and sinister appearance.

At the base of the statue was an inscription in an ancient language. It read:

DaiHauk Triumphant

Adow was able to recall that DaiHauk (pronounced Dayhawk) was one of the Fallen, a godling cast out of the divine realms at the end of the All Saints War. The design of the statue showed that it was created at the same time as the temple, it was not a later addition after the complex fell... Adow and Jesswin began to notice subtle snake images in the wall sculptures that adorned almost every room.

As the party searched they found a secret passage that lead to another door and a hidden hallway leading back toward the main entrance. Through the other door, which was hidden on the other side, the party entered a large hall that everyone felt lead dangerously close to where the infernal dragon was first encountered.

Rather than explore further, the party returned topside. It appeared that another fight with the dragon could not be avoided.

The party set off for Dun Eamon, a nearby trading town, to gather supplies for an assault on the dragon's lair...

Jul 18, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 7) - Raistlin's Pawn

City of Death

issue 7 coverThis issue opens with a beautiful splash page of Takhisis talking with Raistlin. She mentions that she would know at once if he was plotting to betray her. As he reaffirms his loyality to the goddess, we see Kalathan in the middle of another one of his "posessions" and fighting with the gnome and Myrella until he regains his senses.

The three are just outside of Neraka and can see the twisted temple and two flying citadels in the center of town. As they make their way closer, the run across and fight a patrol of baaz draconians. Myrella realizes that Kalathan is being drawn to this city and uses a detect magic spell to reveal that the dark elf is under some enchantment.

Using a tunnel to sneak into the city, the party fights a purple worm before exiting just outside the temple. As they sneak inside, they come to the main audience chamber and see Raistlin. In the center of the huge room, a half-elf and another warrior fighting over a crown.

Just then, the trumpet of a horn triggers something in Kalathan, and the dark elf runs off in search of the mage. In the hallways of the temple, Raistlin and the elf meet. This second meeting causes the mage to remember what he had previously done.

Raistlin casts a spell and removes whatever he previously hid inside the elven vessel. The issue ends with the black robe looking villaniously happy.

Afterward we get a half page of game stats with info on Kalathan and Myrella.

Commentary

I liked this issue a bit more than the previous one. Once again there was some great artwork here. I had already figured out what was going on, but the opening of this issue explains the whys of Raistlin's plan. I did like the fight with the purple worm, since it was something I hadn't seen or read before. Also, the scene of the "half-elf and another warrior fighting over a crown" is actually Tanis and Ariakas, and comes from Dragons of Spring Dawning.

On the down side, I didn't care for the draconian fight, as I've seen it already taht before. I also didn't think that the fight scenes did anything to advance plot or character, and just seemed to fill up pages in the issue. Also, the art for Raistlin's hidden thoughts inside Kalathan (as scene here and in the first issue of this arc) could have been more interesting... at one point, it looks like Raist pulled a large bingo chip out of Kal's head.

Lastly, since this arc fills in a gap during the Dragons of Spring Dawning, I have the problem of knowing how this story (in general) has to end. Since I had read the book, I know what Raist will do and what the outcome will be, so the story is a little less compelling. I'll be happy after next issue when this arc wraps up...

Jul 11, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 6) - Raistlin's Pawn

Wayfarers

DC/Dragonlance comic, issue 6This issue opens with Gnatch and Kalathan journeying on foot (having given up the horse they were riding in the previous issue)to the city of Kalaman when they come across the dead bodies, scattered weapons and other tell-tale signs of battle. While looking over the scene, they are confronted and fight the river pirates responsible of the carnage. The elf puts up a good fight, but is overwhelmed in the end. Before he is killed, a wave of arrows wash over the area, killing the pirates, but not Gnatch and Kalathan.

The soldiers responsible for the rescue (and those the river pirates previously killed) turn out to be part of the Dragonarmy. The dark elf joins their group and "kills" Gnatch by throwing him in the nearby river as a test of his ruthlessness. As they leave, Gnatch comes out with the help of a female river pirate who survived the arrow assault. Together the woman and the gnome head to Kalaman.

Meanwhile, in the city of Kalaman, Raistlin prepares to leave and journey south to Neraka. Cut to Kalathan having another one of his "posessions". He and several dragonarmy men relax in a nearby bar. The bar has a magic mirror that shows a person's "secret self". Looking in the mirror, everyone sees Kalathan's reflection changes to that of Raistlin, though no one recognizes the image.

As Raistlin flies out of the city, riding a green dragon, Kalathan is compelled to leave as well (though he doesn't know why). Just then, Gnatch and the woman, now revealed to be a wizard, arrive and leave with the dark elf. Just outside the city, they find the griffon Kalathan was riding before. Together the three set off for Neraka...

Commentary

Like last issue, I didn't really enjoy this one. I still dislike Gnatch, who I think has been mostly useless to this point. The manner in which Kalathan joins the dragonarmy is a bit silly, nor do I understand just why the river pirate would be so interested in the elf at this point.

There is some really nice art in the issue, from Raistlin, his green dragon, to the interior of the local pub, but that doesn't help offset a story that moves along too fast, with nothing significant to add.

Timeline-wise, this story takes place during the third Chronicles book, and seem to fill in some of the gap of what Raistlin did before his final appearance at the end of the trilogy. Weis and Hickman were planning to write a novel about this as part of their "Lost Chronicles" to be called Dragons of the Hourglass Mage, which would undoubtedly recon this tale out of continuity. Controversy aside, it looks like their book will never be published, leaving this the only "official" account of what happened during that time.

Jul 8, 2008

Site Updates

Just a quick note about some site updates...
* I added some subscribe buttons (to the left)
* I added a blog roll, replacing the feeds that were previously there. If you know of a good D&D or Dragonlance related blog, post a comment and I'll add it to the site (if it's appropriate).
* I added a feed for my twitter account "dndblog". I'll be using this to post random bits too small for a blog post, but this can also be used for more real time discussions.

Hope you like the new features...

Jul 3, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 5) - Raistlin's Pawn

Night Flight

DC/Dragonlance comic, issue 5The story starts off with a Qualinesti elf trying to tame a griffon. Afterward he follows a group of silver dragons heading for the city of Palathas. Before making it to the city, the elf is magically grabbed off the griffon and brought down in the forrest outside the city.

There he encounters a mysterious gold skinned black robed mage who seems to know a lot about Kalthanan. In addition to his name, the mage also knows that the elf is an outcast, or dark elf, from Qualanesti society. The mage also uses magic to hide his "own dark thoughts" within the anger that Kalathan feels toward the elven society that exiled him. Afterward, the mage has no memory of what happened and warns the elf to never "cross the path of Raislin Majere again". As the mage walks away, Kalthan lies in pain as he hears a voice in his head saying, "follow him".

Sometime later (probably the next day), Gnatch, a gnome, is unvieling a device for Lord Amothus (the ruler of Palanthas). The device malfunctions soaking the lord of the city as well as Flint and Tasselhoff, who are also in the city. Kalthanan arrives on the scene and quickly disables the device. Lord Amothus invites Kalthanan to a feast that evening.

At the feast, Kalthanan runs into Laurana and is surprised to see her dressed as a warrior. Just then, Kalthanas hears a voice compelling the elf to "follow him! The time has come!" Kalthanan races out of the castle, even killing a guard who gets in his way.

Once outside, Kalthanan rides away on a horse, but not before Gnatch joins the elf. As they exit the city, Kalthanan has no idea what he had just done.

Commentary

Prior to this issue, I had no idea that the Dragonlance comic was going to be an anthology. Unlike the first issues, the cover here clearly stated that this will be a four part tale. Since Riva Silvercrown doesn't appear at all in the issue, it seemed like each story would have all new characters. Also, based on the appearance of Laurana, Flint, and Tas in the city of Palanthus (and Raistlin in black robes), this issue takes place around the time of the third Chronicles novel, Dragons of Spring Dawning, unlike the first issues which occur before and during the early part of Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

I really liked the art in this issue. There is a lot of detail in all the characters, from Flint, Tas, and Laurana, to Kalathanan and even Lord Amothus. There's also great detail in panel backgrounds, from the halls of Amothus's palace, to the forests around Palanthas. There's even one scene where you can see Flint and Tas fighting with each other in the backgrounds if you look closely enough.

Plot-wise I didn't like the issue since I didn't like Kalathanan right away. At first he just seems like someone out to make a quick coin, but only after his meeting with Laurana (half way through the issue) does my opinion start to change. I also didn't like Gnatch jumping on Kalathan's hourse at the end of the issue. It seemed like a clumsy way to get the two together for the next issue.

Nitpick: In one scene Kalathan talks about taking people's gold, but he should have said steel, since that's the standard currency on Krynn at the time.

Jul 1, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Fist and the Fury

the ghostly image of the dragon known as The Black ScourgeAfter the events of the last few sessions (A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 4 and The Test), the rest of the party continued training and planning their next move. With the dragon contained, for a while anyway, the party needed to train and do some research on their next options.

  • Hunter trained with Marcus, another local ranger in the area. Davyn, who had trained him in the past, was not available, still researching leads on Catriona, a missing friend that the party was also trying to find.
  • Theo was able to train with Lynn, the dwarf who had trained him previously in Flotsam.
  • Jesswin was able to train with some monks at a small shrine in the Temple District.
  • Greybear returned to his druidic circle (several days outside of Flotsam) to train before returning to the city to meet up with everyone else.
  • Bergin was able to train with some visiting clerics of Paladine. While Bergin is a priest of Kiri-Jolith, the two gods are closely aligned.
The party tried different avenues for learning more information about the Black Scourge, but it wasn't until the return of Davyn, did they get a new clue. Davyn found some tribal elders among the desert nomads that heard tales of the Black Scourge or the Infernal Darkness as it's also known. Those tales also mentioned something called the Gem of Amara as some kind of defense against this beast.

The party then followed up with more research in the Temple of Knowledge (one of the largest libraries in the area as well as a church of Gilean). While at the temple, they met Adow, a young wizard who was also seeking the Gem for his own reasons and willing to work with the rest of the party.

Adow revealed that the last known location of the gem was within the the Temple of the Flaming Fist, a long abandoned monastery of Sirrion, a few days journey from here. Adow previously tried to get other adventurers to explore the temple with him, but everyone in town the temple ruins had long been explored (and picked over) by anyone who every wielded a blade or staff.

The following morning, Adow and the rest of the group head off for the abandoned temple. The journey along the way is uneventful, and on the fifth day, they came across the remains of where the temple once stood hundreds of years ago.

The empty field still held subtle remains of the temple that once stood here. While all the wood structures had long since decayed, some remnants of the stone buildings littered the area. Likewise, a ridge in the ground surrounding the clearing showed where the outer wooden wall once stood.

photo of stairwell leading underground. Photo by Terry BallardThough nature had all but reclaimed this once tamed land, in the debris and overgrowth, the party was able to find a stone stairwell leading underground. Once this stairwell was probably contained within the above ground main temple, but now it was just a hole, leading the party down into the bowels of the earth.

At the bottom of the stairs, everyone entered into a large squarish room, almost 40 feet on each side. The walls and floor were smooth, well carved structures of polished stone. Near the middle of the room was a small pile of debris while in the far corner were empty and scorched grain sacks. Scorch marks also marred the rounded ceiling here as well.

dire batJust then a pair of large bats flew into the room, attacking the group with their sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The spread out slightly, Hunter shooting arrows at a distance and the rest of the party coordinating their attacks for when the creatures were within striking distance. A few blows and spells later, the dire bats were defeated.

Afterward the party headed down the west corridor. At the end of a short hallway, they found a door ajar from the the frame and slightly open. From within they could hear flowing water. Inside the party found a natural cave with a small waterfall coming out of one of the far walls traveling along the rough ground and out a small opening on the opposite wall. At the base of the falls the water was about 4-5 feet deep and held algae covered stones and small fish and crabs. The room also had a number of old barrels, probably used for holding water pulled from the stream. As the party searched the room for other clues about what the temple was like all those years ago, something invisible attacked Jesswin.

With no way to see the creature, Theo tried tossing some dirt around the area of the last attack. The tactic was good enough to highlight part of tree-trunk think leg. Greybear followed up by splashing some water on the creature as well. With enough water and dirt clinging to the creature, everyone was able to see it well enough to attack it. It soon fell to the ground dead, it's cloak of invisibility gone. One exposed, the party saw what looked like a humanoid fungus creature, known as a Phantom Fungus.

With the creature dead, the party was able to more closely explore the room. Hunter noticed something odd about the stones near the base of the waterfall. After a little prodding with his sword, it revealed that the lime-covered stones were actually the covered bones of a human body. With a little effort and some help, Hunter was able to pull the body out of the water.

Anyone looking at the body, could easy see the caved in skull was the cause of death. What was less noticeable to all but Jes were the marks that indicated repeated broken and healed arm and leg bones during this person's lifetime. Jes surmised this person was a well trained, if not battle experienced, fighting monk. Clutched in it's hand, the skeleton held a room key.

The party continued exploring till they reached a pair of doors on either side at the end of one of the hallways. Going through the first door, a large fungus started emitting a loud shrieking noise. After less than a minute the noise stopped. The first chamber in this room was empty, except for the typical dirt and debris that seemed to be attracted to the corners of these rooms. The next chamber in this room was almost as empty as the first, except for the pair of undead that was shambling toward them.

dire batAs the party spread out in the chamber the undead each went after different targets. One attacked Theo, getting a lucky bite on him before being destroyed, while the other was kept at bay till it too could be destroyed. At the back of the chamber, the party found a secret passage that the ghouls obviously hid inside. The passage connected the two chambers and held a few items from less lucky explorers, including some coins and a few spell scrolls.

After going through the other door, the party found a long room covered in piles of trash, seemingly from all parts of the temple. Books and miscellaneous papers were strewn about along with busted chairs, part of a bed frame and less identifiable items. Everything was precariously and randomly tossed about. As various party members explored deeper and deeper, each found themselves getting tripped up, slipping on, or knocking over the debris in this room. As they left, Adow grabbed a few books and papers to look over later.

After leaving these rooms the party continued down different passages. As they rounded one corner they heard a strange sound coming from down the hall. Charging at the party, a crazed hobgoblin attacked. This creature was slightly larger than others of it's species, with bulging muscles and crude (even by hobgoblin standards) animal hides and furs. With the momentum of it's charge, the first attack against Hunter almost killed the elf in one massive swing. Bergin quickly cast curative magic to heal the severe wounds. Meanwhile, the sheer ferocity of the attack stunned Jes in place.

As Theo sneaked past hobgoblin, Hunter attacked with his magical blade and Adow tried unleashing potent missiles of magic against the raging attacker. These bolts of force flew toward the barbarian, but instead of wounding the hobgoblin, they were harmlessly absorbed into a tribal emblem attached to his hide armor.

Now surrounded on three sides, the creature wildly attacked whoever was available, paying no attention to his own safety. After a trading a few more blows, he was killed by the combined efforts of the party. Afterward, the party retreated from this underground labyrinth and made camp in the above ground ruins of the temple while everyone tried to rest and heal.